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Author Archives: Zachary Petit

Important Writing Lessons From First-Time Novelists


Writing and publishing your debut novel can take three months or 30 years. In this roundtable discussion, five very different breakout authors share what they’ve learned about how to position yourself for success. Read more

Writer’s Digest Article Index 2012

All feature articles and columns published in Writer’s Digest during 2011 are indexed by topic. Abbreviations for regular columns: Inkwell—IW; Ask the Agent—ATA; Breaking In—BI; Questions & Quandaries—QQ; Your Story—YS; Conference Scene—CS; … Read more

Writing Challenge: Can You Write the Opening Sentence to a Story Based on This Photo?

And now, it’s time once again for our long-running writing challenge: The Your Story contest. Think of it like The New Yorker’s caption contest with a WD twist. In every issue of … Read more

The Power of Pairs Roundtable: Exclusive Outtakes

In a feature article in the January 2014 Writer’s Digest, we brought together four of today’s most successful co-authors to discover what goes on behind the scenes when writers collaborate—and how two heads really can be better than one. In these online-exclusive outtakes, they talk more about some of the other high-profile co-authoring gigs that came up in the course of their conversation. Read more

How to Write for Writer’s Digest (… Even if You’ve Never Written for Magazines Before)

Yesterday we updated the Submission Guidelines for Writer’s Digest magazine (just some routine tidying—adjusting links, adding a couple sections, overanalytically tweaking a word here and there, then immediately changing it back, etc.). … Read more

Should you quit your job to write full time?

The following is a guest post by WD Contributing Editor Linda Formichelli, from her new book, Write Your Way Out of the Rat Race … And Step Into a Career You Love. … Read more

The Rices on Research

In these bonus outtakes from our exclusive dual interview in the November/December 2013 issue of Writer’s Digest, Anne Rice and Christopher Rice share the inside scoop on their research processes. Is research … Read more

Before They Were Famous: The Oddest Odd Jobs of 10 Literary Greats

by Alex Palmer Plenty of acclaimed and successful writers began their careers working strange—and occasionally degrading—day jobs. But rather than being ground down by the work, many drew inspiration for stories and … Read more

13 Quirky Workplaces of Famous Writers

The following piece by Celia Blue Johnson is currently in the October 2013 issue of Writer’s Digest. Check out the full issue here.   Many great writers have found creative comfort while … Read more

John Grisham’s 3 Must-Haves of Novel Writing

The following is a guest post by author Tony Vanderwarker: I spent two years writing a novel under the guidance of my friend and neighbor John Grisham. So in light of this … Read more

Why Watching TV Can Actually Be Good For a Writer

Guilty that you spent some time last night watching TV instead of writing? Don’t feel too bad. As a handful of authors discussed in the “Is Reading Really Considered Working?” panel at ThrillerFest Saturday, writers can learn from more venues than just books—there’s literary merit in taking in some TV.
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10 Things to Remember When Writing a Legal Thriller

“Lawyers can make brilliant heroes,” as author Meg Gardiner pointed out in her ThrillerFest panel “Boxers or Briefs? Making Your Attorney Stand Out.” With that in mind, here are some lessons we drew from the panelists to help you sharpen your protagonist, and bring your legal thriller to life for readers. Read more

9 Inspirational (and Practical) Bits of Advice From Anne Rice, Catherine Coulter, David Morrell and Others

Here’s a collection of wisdoms from the star-studded panels and sessions at ThrillerFest. Read more

David Morrell On the Key to Settings


In his CraftFest session at ThrillerFest, “Setting: How to Make Your Novel Go Places,” David Morrell (author of First Blood) riffed on how to produce fantastic settings that become characters in their own right. Read more

Michael Connelly on the No. 1 Key to Writing a Series

Michael Connelly dishes his No. 1 secret on how to pull off a successful series. Read more

10 Things Shakespeare Can Teach Us About Writing Thrillers

Conspiracy. Murder. Politics. Love. Sex. Ghosts. Pirates. Thrillers and the works of William Shakespeare may have more in common than you’d think. And, as author A.J. Hartley proved in his session “Cues From Shakespeare, the First Thriller Writer,” there’s a lot the bard can teach scribes about storytelling. Read more

3 of Michael Connelly’s Favorite Bits of Writing Advice

Michael Connelly (author of the Harry Bosch series) shares three of his favorite nuggets of advice from other writers. Read more

What to Look for When Editing Your Manuscript

What should writers do when they finish their first drafts? Author Patricia Gussin reveals how to tune your manuscript up so it’s ready for agents and editors. Read more

Here’s Bestseller T. Jefferson Parker’s Writing Process: Might It Work for You?

In his ThrillerFest session “Off on the Right Foot—When to Outline and When to Write,” T. Jefferson Parker (author of the Charlie Hood series) detailed the ins and outs of his personal writing process. Read more

4 Things Star Trek Can Teach Us About Writing

The following is a guest post by Thomas Smith. Happy Friday. Over the years I’ve looked at what my dogs have taught me about writing, what Batman can teach us about writing, … Read more

Unplug and Zero In: Could a Writing Retreat Be Standing Between You and a Finished Manuscript?

The following is a guest post from Jotham Burrello, publisher of Elephant Rock Books. * I arrived at Ragdale House on a sunny June morning in my rusty Saab. I’d packed my … Read more

Last call! Writing Challenge: Write the Opening Sentence to a Story Based on This Photo

To anyone not currently wandering the halls of Book Expo America in New York, loaded down with so many books you wish you’d brought a wheelbarrow (my favorite part of the event): … Read more

If You’re Feeling Down and Out About a Rejection Letter …

Consider James Lee Burke. Sure, his novels are everywhere these days. Bookstores. Airports. Bestseller lists. But here’s how they got there. As Lindsey O’Connor detailed in our profile of the author, Burke published … Read more

More From Bestseller Joe Hill

Author Joe Hill (NOS4A2, Horns, Heart-Shaped Box) describes his parents, Stephen and Tabitha King, as “the best writing teachers in the world.” Here he offers a few more thoughts on what he has learned from them, and shares a story about collaborating with his father on “Throttle.” Read more

15 Things a Writer Should Never Do

Based on interviews with authors over the years, conferences, editing dozens of issues of Writer’s Digest, and my own occasional literary forays and flails, here are some points of consensus and observations: … Read more

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